Race Weekend Central

F1 News: Vettel Sets Fastest Opening Test Time in Spain; McLaren Falters

Sebastian Vettel, coming off a somewhat successful test last week, took over the first day of the last preseason Formula 1 test Tuesday, at the Circuit Barcelona-Catalunya in Montmelo, Spain.

The Ferrari driver clocked the fastest time of 1:20:396, which was set on medium tires during just over two race distances at 171 laps. Consistent as he was last week, Valtteri Bottas was the second-best time of the day, followed by Max Verstappen in his Red Bull.

Despite the horrible weather last week, all the scheduled testers took advantage of what seemed to be perfect conditions to get their high mileage out. This could be their last real chance to evaluate shake down their cars as the opening race in Australia is a little less than three weeks away.

While most teams were progressing with their timetables, it was McLaren who endured a horrible day, as Stoffel Vandoorne began with an installation lap that saw the Belgian return immediately back to the pits to correct a battery failure caused by the power unit. Following an hour in the pits, Vandoorne emerged again, only to complete two more laps before the telemetry coming from the pits indicated that the car’s power unit failed once again on the front straight. Vandoorne again had the problem solved, only to just take three more laps before the lunch break.

The issues returned in the afternoon, but this time with a hydraulic failure on the Belgian’s 38th lap of the test, stopping his car in turn three. He did not return to the circuit for the rest of the day.

Verstappen was also the victim of another Renault power unit battery failure, which occurred later in the day when his Red Bull stopped in turn one.

Although the Renault team completed 139 laps between drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz, Technical Director Bob Bell began to worry about the customer battery failures caused by the power unit.

“Those problems could have affected any of the three teams, so of course it’s an issue for us,” Bell said to ESPN F1. “But the reason we do this testing of those components before going to Melbourne is to find the ones that have got problems, so that when we go to Melbourne we have a stock of batteries that we are completely confident in. It’s the right thing to do; we have found some that are not fit for purpose and that’s great.”

The long-awaited Honda engine, which is now with the Toro Rosso team, took fifth with Frenchman Pierre Gasly. But a brake problem meant that the second driver, Brendon Hartley, could not take over duties in the afternoon, which meant that Toro Rosso’s day was over.

The American F1 team, Haas F1 , had a very successful day, with Kevin Magnussen taking sixth best time. The test will resume tomorrow with the second of the four-day final test, so expect many laps to be taken by all the F1 teams.

At Circuit Barcelona-Catalunya, Montmelo, Spain
Day One- test two Final results
1. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, 1:20.396, 171 laps (Medium)
2. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, 1:20.596, 86 laps (Soft)
3. Max Verstappen, Red Bull, 1:20.649,130 laps (Medium)
4. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 1:20.808, 91 laps (Soft)
5. Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso, 1:20.973, 54 laps (Soft)
6. Kevin Magnussen, Haas, 1:21.298, 96 laps (Soft)
7. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, 1:21.432, 48 laps (Medium)
8. Carlos Sainz, Renault, 1:21.455, 91 laps (Soft)
9. Sergey Sirotkin, Williams, 1:21.588, 42 laps (Soft)
10.Sergio Perez, Force India, 1:21.643, 93 laps (Soft)
11. Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, 1:21.706, 120 laps (Super-soft)
12. Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, 1:21.946, 38 laps (Super-soft)
13. Lance Stroll, Williams, 1:22.937, 86 laps (Soft)

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Maybe at some point nascar can convince Goodyear that modern tire companies can supply more than one tire compound of race tire. At the same time nascar will give it a real trial not so halfway attempt like they did at Charlotte.


What NA$CAR needs is a Goldilocks tire. That one is toooooooo hard! That one is toooooooo soft! That one is just right! They haven’t found that one yet.

F1 is a different animal than NA$CAR. The cars are half the weight. The race is essentially non-stop for 190 miles. There are only 20 teams, eight of which don’t matter. Most races are around 90 minutes.


What nascar needs is something to make the races interesting again. Anything that would help is a step in the right direction.

You can bet that as the TV money continues to grow in importance compared to the live gate stock car races will get shorter in duration. Ultimately they will probably be the same length as F1. Fitting into the same amount of time. How quickly I cant say, but it will.

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